10 Downing Street, London: 1943. This Second World War artifact includes a facsimile handwritten letter by Clementine Churchill, printed on both sides of a piece of 10 Downing Street stationery measuring 7 x 4.625 inches (17.78 x 11.75 cm). The date “July 1943” and names “George, Bobby & Jimmy” were added in ink by an unknown, likely secretarial, hand. The text of the letter reads “Thank you very | much for your gift | which I have just | received - | I am most grate- | -ful to you for | the trouble you have | taken to help the | heroic Russians | in their terrible | but victorious struggle | against the wicked | invaders of their | country. | Your sincere friend | Clementine S. Churchill”. Accompanying the letter is the original typed and facsimile-signed donation receipt addressed to “Masters George BUCKLER, Bobby MASINY & Jimmy WALLS” at their “Bexleyheath, Kent” address. The receipt is for “£1.0.0”, dated “20th July, 1943”, stamped with a six-digit receipt number, and features the typed statement “This is to acknowledge with grateful thanks your contribution to Mrs. Churchill’s Red Cross “Aid to Russia” Fund.” Accompanying the receipt and letter is the original franked envelope with a “WAR-TIME ECONOMY LABEL” and London postmark dated “22 JLY 1943”. The typed address matches that of the donation receipt.
The letter is in very good plus condition, with no tears or loss and only light soiling. One vertical and one horizontal fold are from original mailing. The donation receipt is likewise very good plus, with a single vertical fold and light creasing to the right edge. The envelope is missing the flap, slit along the right side, and generally soiled. All three items are housed in a removable, archival mylar sleeve within a rigid, crimson cloth folder.
The Second World War Anglo-Soviet alliance was essential but uneasy. Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1939, promising mutual non-aggression. On 22 June 1941 the Pact unceremoniously terminated when Nazi forces invaded the Soviet Union. British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, long a vehement anti-communist, embraced the exigent practicality of wartime alliance with the Soviets and on 12 July 1941 the Anglo-Soviet Agreement was signed.
Churchill’s wife, Clementine (1885-1977), added human dimension to an alliance born of necessity. In 1941 the Aid to Russia fund was set up with Clementine as chair. Among the various fundraising methods was a “penny-a-week fund. Wage earners were given the option of volunteering a penny a week… deducted from their pay…. Within just 12 days £370,000 had been raised.” By war’s end, the Fund raised nearly £8,000,000 and provided clothing, blankets, medical supplies and other items to the Soviet Red Cross. “To amass such support from a country which was itself struggling with wartime shortages was a considerable achievement.” The effort was intensely personal for Clementine. “Many who sent in letters with donations received personal, signed replies…” As evidenced by this item, “Clementine even took the time to thank all the school children who contributed…” (National Trust & International Churchill Society)
At the close of the war, Clementine made a tour of Soviet hospitals that had been helped by her British Red Cross Aid to Russia Fund. For five weeks, from late March to early May 1945, Clementine journeyed throughout the Soviet Union. Clementine was still in Russia on V-E Day; her husband “wrote a speech for her to deliver via broadcast to the Russian people in celebration of the Allied victory: “It is my firm belief that on the friendship and understanding between the British and Russian peoples depends the future of mankind.”" (Gilbert, Vol. VII, p. 1350) Her efforts had been significant and her sentiments were laudably hopeful, but charity and sentiment were not enough to overcome fundamentally different British and Russian conceptions of the nature of postwar rights and freedoms and the intractable conflicts that resulted. Item #006778